Live and local: the tech business helping redefine e-commerce for FMCG brands

Adimo’s founder Richard Kelly explains how his ‘shoppable marketing’ platform has helped simplify the way we buy everyday products online

Adimo is inspired by convenience, and following steady gains over the last decade has more recently found itself riding the waves of e-commerce growth thanks to its ability to help us shop more easily online.

The business, conceived by co-founder and CEO Richard Kelly in 2010, helps turn the promise of awareness marketing into actual conversions by making ads and digital content shoppable - but with a crucial USP; products can be added to existing shopping baskets, so they become part of the weekly groceries.

It’s the sort of convenience that can only be born out of frustration for the existing model, and the entrepreneurial passion to fix it - and it’s working. The business, which officially launched with co-founder Colin Brown in 2012, currently connects billions of shoppers with more than 600 retailers. Brands using the technology include Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestlé and Bacardi.

Kelly, a self-confessed “nerd for the Internet” who has spent his entire career in digital marketing, developed the idea after witnessing the ease with which third-party content could be published directly to the Facebook News Feed, and realising such “frictionless” convenience was missing from much of the FMCG marketing he carried out.

“My [agency] clients were marketing directly to shoppers, but they were not selling to them directly,” Kelly tells Performance Marketing World.

“There were still third-party retailers, such as Tesco and Asda, where people were going to buy these products after being inspired online. And I thought that there had to be a better solution.”

Thus Adimo was born. Now, in 2021, its operations have evolved to allow users to compare prices, browse products and check stock levels using real-time data.

Turning any experience into a purchase opportunity 

The technology has also grown to make practically any digital experience shoppable, whether that’s a website, online recipe, display ad, or even voice tech, packaging and augmented reality - and the result means the path to purchase has been shortened for many consumers, opening up new opportunities.

“If someone searches for a recipe to make a key lime pie, they now need all the ingredients, and that’s where our technology steps in,” says Kelly. “It’s embedded directly on the recipe; click the button, and it sends all those ingredients straight to your shopping basket [of choice].”

However, Kelly is growing more excited about the prospect of deploying his tech alongside the internet of things (IoT), to help bridge the gap between the online and physical world.

“We developed a shoppable packaging prototype,” he says. “For example, you can just tap your phone against a jar of coffee, and it would use NFC tags to put it straight into your basket. It’s all about the core mission of trying to make an impulse purchase as easy online as it is in store. That's the way we want to be able to do it, because it takes technology from just living within marketing, to shopping contexts where it's actually most useful.” 

Kelly also sees opportunities for FMCG and CPG brands to use his tech to reframe their marketing messages to reflect the new shopping behaviours Adimo is able to facilitate.

“So much of FMCG is based on price,” he says. “If you think about all supermarket ads, they tend to promote the cheapest. But for me, what that misses is people aren't necessarily shopping on price alone; they're shopping on cost - and that’s a different thing. Price is what you pay for something, cost is what you're sacrificing, such as time.

“The role we can play with brands, is helping make it easier for them to put shopping opportunities in front of consumers and take more ownership of that because it's something they've always relied on retailers for.”

Pandemic shift

Like most e-commerce businesses, the stay-at-home orders imposed over the last two years have secured growth for Adimo. Indeed, when the UK first announced lockdown measures in March 2020, Adimo was operating in 20 countries, but following an eightfold increase in shopper traffic, today it operates in 65.

“We've had a lot of scale internationally over the past 18 months,” says Kelly, as he eyes more boots on the ground in 2022, potentially in APAC, where e-commerce penetration is already high.

However, despite the ambitions, there are more recent macro trends that Kelly, like everyone else, is cautious off.

“The proportion of out-of-stock experiences are increasing,” he says. 

At the start of the pandemic, this was driven by consumer demand, and Kelly tracked the data through his platform to gain an accurate picture of how that played out, noting it took until February 2021 before things settled fully.

Yet at the tail-end of 2021, he says shortages are on the rise again, but this time it is being driven by the supply-side.

“We don't want to raise alarm bells, but if it continues at the same trajectory, by December it’ll be worse than it was in peak lockdown,” he says. “And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, as people are more likely to panic buy, which exacerbates the problem.”

Kelly does not want to lay blame anywhere, but supply chain issues have been felt across the world. It’s also an issue other e-commerce businesses have warned of, and a concern that has reshaped marketing calenders as consumers look to carry out Christmas shopping earlier than they ordinarily would.

How the future will be made

Despite the wider logistical challenges impacting the market, 2022 and beyond will see Adimo continue to evolve its offering, and perhaps even help reappraise FMCG advertising to boot.

“There are lots of opportunities,” says Kelly. “Especially delivering personalisation, or understanding when somebody is going to need something based on their previous purchase behaviour.”

This should lead, longer-term, to the use of AI in FMCG e-commerce, he says.

“People still think it’ll be years away before we get an AI that does our grocery shopping, and they're probably right that we’ll have to wait for one that works really well. But the data that will train that AI is being generated today. 

“So I believe it’s in a brand's best interest to get people buying more online than offline today, so when these great AIs emerge, they already know how you shop.”

Richard Kelly is co-founder and CEO of Adimo